Low REM Sleep Time–Higher AFib Risk

Sleep apnea may have a link to atrial fibrillation (AFib), which increases stroke risk, dementia risk, heart attack rick, and even death. A University of California – San Francisco study showed decreased REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep-stage 5 of sleep-is linked to higher chances of development of AFib.  A person needs about 120 minutes (2 hours) of REM every night.  AFib leads to things such as heart palpitations, chronic fatigue, shortness of breath, and kidney disease.

The study was in the June 26, 2018, publication HeartRhythm, which is the regular journal put out by the Heart Rhythm Society.

One study author, Gregory Marcus, MD, MAS, who is a cardiologist and researcher, said that clinical trials need to be done to see if interventions like CPAP or oral appliances in patients who already have AFib can help these patients.  5,703 participants were in the study and they were followed for over an average of 11.6 years.

This study, HeartRhythm, study measured various things like length of sleep and quality of sleep as well as time spent in REM sleep vs. time spent in non-REM sleep.  They found that frequent disruptions in sleep were related to over 30% greater risk of AFib.

There are several things that can cause these disruptions in sleep.  A snoring bed partner, sleep apnea, intolerance to using CPAP, pets, etc.  There are 5 stages in the sleep cycle and to get restful, restorative sleep, a person needs to go through these stages 4 to 5 times every night and that usually takes about 7 hours.  The total time spent in stage 4 should be 90 minutes to keep one from being depressed since serotonin is made in state 4.  Less that 90 minutes can lead to some level of depression.  The total time spent in stage 5 should be 120 minutes (2 hours) in order to repair your immune system and to rid your brain of the substances which are implicated in development of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

We can help if snoring, sleep apnea, or CPAP intolerance are the problems.  Make an appointment for a free consultation at our office to discuss the problem.  Your AFib could be caused by one of these things and treatment may reduce or eliminate the AFib.